He released his economic plan last week. Take a look at it and the feedback on it in comparison to the 2012 GOP field.
Joe Carter has an interesting piece worth reading that analyzes his own conservative base’s beliefs on limited and small government termings:
A prime example is our invocation and praise of limited government. Despite being a shibboleth of political conservatism, it is unclear exactly what the phrase means. What political questions are we addressing when we appeal to the virtues of limited government?
Our failure to address questions like this one leads us to our toleration of politicians who merely mouth accepted platitudes but who are unable to implement corresponding policies. How can we expect them to know what we mean by the term when we aren’t so sure ourselves?
Not only is limited or small government meant to be, in many cases, limited and small in terms of nanny-state programs or anything else that generally doesn’t benefit white, heterosexual, working males/families. Defining these terms is crucial for having constructive conversations. What Rick Perry, George W. Bush, and Jon Huntsman each define as limited or small government may differ greatly but they all may stand on the same phrases as if they were equal across the board.
Some of the GOP candidates running in 2012 have executive experience (Johnson, Pawlenty, Huntsman). Conor Friedersdorf gives a good case for not trusting the job creating records these former exec’s had in their given state (New Mexico, Minnesota, and Utah, respectively). Conor even hones in on Gary Johnson, a candidate he most likely would endorse:
Every state has its confounding variables. And it’s unlikely that journalists or voters are going to accurately assign credit or blame for them, especially since a useful comparison requires attributing the appropriate credit to everyone. Plus there’s a huge time horizon problem. What if the best policy doesn’t produce jobs immediately, but does produce them eventually, and in much greater numbers than a shorter term fix? It isn’t as if it’s uncommon for a politician to inherit the consequences of a predecessor’s decision, or to saddle a successor with a problem that is more dire than it seemed when he left office.
Another problem with the jobs metric: success as a governor depends largely upon legislation signed or vetoed during one’s tenure. What if a governor has an intransigent legislature through no fault of his own? What if he owes his tremendous success to personal relationships in the state that he can’t rely on in Washington, D.C.? What if, like Gary Johnson, he vetoes bills aplenty when they’re passed by the other political party? Love or hate Johnson’s record, he amassed it largely through the veto mechanism. Elevated to the White House, but given a Republican rather than a Democratic legislature, would he be able to govern as successfully? Hard to say. A man’s success operating in one political context isn’t a reliable predictor of how he’ll perform in another. See all the successful governors who performed poorly after attaining higher office.
Believe it or not, but Jon Huntsman could possibly be someone I’d vote for over Obama in 2012. Huntsman has a great track record as an executive (two-term governor of Utah),which Obama in retrospect may have needed more than he thought, and is focused on two very important things: job creation and returning civility to our public debate. First, the economy:
We must reignite the powerful job creating engine of our economy – the industry, innovation, reliability, and trailblazing genius of Americans and their enterprises — and restore confidence in our people.
We did many of these things in Utah when I was governor. We cut taxes and flattened rates. We balanced our budget. Worked to maintain our AAA bond rating. When the economic crisis hit, we were ready. And by many accounts we became the best state for business and the best managed state in America. We proved government doesn’t have to choose between fiscal responsibility and economic growth. I learned something very important as Governor. For the average American family there is nothing more important than a job.
Second, civility. When was the last time you honestly heard a Republican candidate speak like this?
I don’t think you need to run down anyone’s reputation to run for President. Of course we’ll have our disagreements. I respect my fellow Republican candidates. And I respect the President. He and I have a difference of opinion on how to help the country we both love. But the question each of us wants the voters to answer is who will be the better President; not who’s the better American.
Jonathan Chait sees the divide between Huntsman and the GOP that may hold him back from succeeding:
The posture of maximal opposition to Obama is the one single thing upon which the entire party agrees. The notion that a dissenter against that consensus might win the presidential nomination is not merely a longshot but totally absurd.
Then there is matching him, his resume, and his message up with the GOP pack:
Huntsman will continue to get a good press (hiring John Weaver, John McCain’s image-guy/strategist was a smart move) and that press won’t be enough. Nor will many people vote for Huntsman because of his foreign policy credentials: as Spencer Ackerman says, being a diplomat don’t give you much suction or juice these days. Anyway, when the C-word comes up we know that Huntsman is going to say something sensible about how America shouldn’t be too worried too soon by too much of anything that China might do. Most of the other “leading” contenders will advise Americans to press the panic button and this, I am afraid, will be more effective than anything Huntsman can say.
Huntsman also comments on the New York state bill to legalize same-sex marriage:
… Huntsman was asked specifically about the growing likelihood of a same-sex marriage bill being passed in New York. Would he seek to overrule Empire State lawmakers should he end up in the Oval Office? “I would respect the state’s decision on that,” he replied.
The answer, while brisk, nevertheless sets Huntsman apart from his fellow Republican presidential candidates. Other members of the field have offered sympathy for state sovereignty on matters of marriage. But they have usually couched that by saying they would support a federal ban on same-sex marriage as well.
(Photo: Republican Jon Huntsman speaks during a press conference to announce his bid for the presidency at Liberty State Park June 21, 2011 in Jersey City, New Jersey. Huntsman, until recently the U.S. ambassador to China under President Obama, emphasized his record as a two-term governor of Utah. By Spencer Platt/Getty Images.)
Ramesh Ponuru makes the counter-argument against the 2012 GOP field being labeled as weak:
The three people most likely to win the Republican nomination — Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty and Jon Huntsman, according to Intrade.com — have all been governors. Two of them were governors of states that Obama carried in 2008. By contrast, the top three candidates for the Democratic nomination last time around (Obama, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards) had a combined zero days of executive experience. This time, even some long-shot Republican candidates have stronger resumes than that: Libertarian gadfly Gary Johnson, for example, was a two-term governor of New Mexico.
Romney is well-versed on the issues and fast on his feet. Pawlenty, by addressing voter concerns about health care and traffic congestion while holding the line on taxes, managed to win re-election in deep-blue Minnesota in 2006, when Republicans were routed nationwide. Huntsman was a popular governor of Utah and, as the former ambassador to China, is knowledgeable about the country’s most important economic relationship.
Ramesh makes a good point about executive experience. However, will this group of ex-governor’s and their experience(s) be able to hold up against the incumbents?
When Jon Huntsman said that Sarah Palin represents and can relate to every American, I winced. Does she see America when she looks into the all white crowd? (Mind you, the minorities in the video were all working security/stadium crew).